ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to supply upstate VA facilities with personal protective equipment after a March 2020 report found that many facilities are facing shortages.
The report found that 21 out of 54 VA facilities had barely any PPE in stock and would run out within weeks or days. Schumer said the VA’s response to fulfilling the need is taking too long.
“As the largest healthcare provider in the nation, it is baffling and deeply troubling that the Veterans Health Administration does not have a strategy in place to address the shortages of PPE in New York, the epicenter of this pandemic. The fact that this lack of effective action continues to let this deadly disease spread is beyond unacceptable,” said Senator Schumer. “Inexcusable foot-dragging from VA leadership has put Upstate New York’s world-class VA healthcare workers fighting on the frontlines and caring for our veterans and our veterans themselves at risk. When essential VA workers do not have PPE to care for our nation’s heroes, it jeopardizes not only the workers, but also the veterans who come into contact with them, a majority of which are seniors. The VA must act now to protect New York veterans, and VA workers who serve them, in their critical moment of need and work on a proactive plan to best protect the men and women who have served our county.”
Currently, there are 9 VA facilities in the Capital Region facing a lack of personal protective equipment.
Schumer sent a letter to the secretary of the Department of Veterans affairs and posed the following questions:
- Since the Department’s March 2020 report, what steps has the VA and/or VHA taken to meet the identified shortages of PPE and other critical supplies and equipment, including ventilators, respirators and medications needed to administer the aforementioned equipment and treat COVID-19 patients at VA facilities?
- Do all 81 of New York’s VA inpatient and outpatient care sites and vet centers have sufficient supplies of PPE, other supplies, equipment and medicines to protect their workforce, safely provide care to VA patients and treat VA patients for COVID-19?
- Has the Department identified any VA facilities in New York that are at risk of PPE shortages or other supplies, equipment and/or medicines within the next two weeks? If yes, which and how will you address these potential shortages?
- What barriers if any continue to limit the VA or VHA in their ability to fully supply and equip VA facilities as they provide care to veterans being treated for or at risk of infection from COVID-19?
He said they are waiting for an answer and hopes the VA moves fast to provide the facilities the resources they need.
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